Health issues tie up 2 Elizabethton school board members

John Thompson • Apr 12, 2013 at 9:23 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Two of the five members of the Elizabethton City School Board may not be able to make next week’s meeting because of medical problems.

Susan Peters, a volunteer and activist with the school system, said board member Catherine Armstrong fell at her home Tuesday and broke her hip. Peters said Armstrong underwent surgery and is convalescing at Sycamore Shoals Hospital. Peters said Armstrong will be in physical therapy after she is released from the hospital.

Peters said an ally of Armstrong’s on the school board, Connie Baker, is also experiencing health problems. Peters said Baker’s daughter has taken her to the Mayo Clinic in an effort to diagnose her problems.

Armstrong and Baker have frequently criticized actions of Superintendent Ed Alexander and the majority of the board. Many of the votes taken by the board result in 3-2 decisions, with Armstrong and Baker as the minority votes.

While it is not known when Armstrong and Baker will be able to physically return to the board, they may continue to participate in the meetings, thanks to a recent change in state law allowing members to use Skype electronic videoconferencing.

The law still requires a board to have a quorum of members physically present and that could also be a problem with Baker and Armstrong suffering health problems.

A third member, Dr. Grover May, is an obstetrician and is subject to being called to the hospital at any time. If he had an emergency next Thursday, the board might have to postpone its April meeting. That meeting is expected to have a high level of public interest because Alexander is considering not rehiring popular West Side Elementary Principal Doug Mitchell.

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